What does it mean to let go or to have no attachments? I hear about the life of a monk and I wonder if this is the life I should be living. I was raised to be goal oriented and to give 100% to whatever I commit to so it seems natural to pursue the Buddha’s path completely. I was taught to face my fears, break through obstacles, and to believe in the power of mind over matter so if the goal is enlightenment I should force myself to let go of all my attachments. No pain no gain. Practice makes perfect. Shoot for the moon.
But there’s one problem. I’m not supposed to suppress any of my desires. I’m not supposed to regret choices I’ve made in the past. I’m not supposed to worry about the future. I’m just supposed to live in the present and observe sensations. As I practice observing sensations over weeks, months, and years, these various sensations get weaker and pass away naturally. If I try to force these sensations away I’m either causing more stress to my mind or suppressing these feeling deep inside my subconscious.
This kind of feels like a trick to my western mind. Work hard on your meditation without worrying about the future. There will be benefits from your practice but you can’t worry about what they’ll be. Your life will change and you won’t enjoy things the way you used to but you won’t understand the benefit of those changes until you experience it yourself. This is all very confusing to my western mind.
The meaning of letting go has completely changed for me. Instead of letting go material things or goals, I’m actually supposed to be letting go of my expectations. Having things and goals is okay and even beneficial as long as you don’t expect those things to stay the same. If I forced myself to give away all of my personal possessions to get closer to liberation I would be going in the wrong direction. I need to accept who I am and what I have and be at peace with that because that’s the reality of this present moment. As meditation helps me experience deeper truth my life will naturally become happier, healthier, and more loving to all being. If I don’t patiently let this path unfold I’ll be going in the wrong direction.
I don’t need to let go of anything except my expectations. Everything else will happen naturally. That is not an easy thing for my western mind to accept, but it’s enough to encourage me to meditate for a few more days.